March 13, 2023 / Family Photography
5 Tips for Stress-free Family Photos | Big Sur Family Photographer
As a Big Sur family photographer, I’ve kinda seen it all. I’ve photographed big families, small families, and kids of all ages. And something that always comes up in client calls is, “How do I get my kids to behave?”
And my answer is always the same, “Let them play, explore, and get a little dirty.”
So, if you’re planning a family photo session, these five tips should help you make the most of your day.
Preparing Your Kids for Family Photos
Meet the Carson family, a gorgeous family from the San Jose area. As the mom, Kali, and I began planning their session, it was pretty clear that they had some energetic kiddos.
With a little prep work, the kids arrived knowing what to expect, and the whole gang had a great time. The kids got to play, everyone got a little messy, and we captured authentic photos of everyone. Stress-free!
5 Tips for Stress-free Family Photos
Kids are naturally curious and unpredictable, so it’s important to be flexible and open to new ideas to capture the best moments.
For this session, the baby was obsessed with the yellow truck he brought along. He probably would’ve been pretty upset if we didn’t let him have it for any photos. So we compromised. We let him have it for some photos and then hid it from him for the others.
Even though the photos with the truck probably aren’t the family’s favorites right now, they’ll look back and find it funny one day.
2. Be Playful & Engaging
When you let loose and play with your kids, that’s when the magic really happens. Not only does it make the whole experience more fun for them, but it also helps me capture those natural and authentic moments that can’t be posed or planned.
Dad was so great at playing and engaging during this session. He’d grab one of the kids, start playing with them and ask them questions. It would get their attention off of me and the camera and into being present with his family.
I always suggest asking kids lots of questions about their surroundings. It gets their attention and with a little humor, can stir up giggles.
“Did you see that bird up there?”
“Do you think there are whales in the water right there?”
“What color is this flower?”
Other ways to engage and be playful with kids:
Tickle fights are always on brand!
Sing a favorite song
Pretend the child is invisible
You get the idea. As parents, you’ll know what will make your kiddos laugh and have a good time. Play together, ask questions, and I’ll guide you through the rest.
3. Let the Kids Explore for Action Photos
Kids are natural explorers; watching them discover new things is one of the best parts of being a parent. So why not let them explore during the photo session too? Some of the best photos are the ones that were never on the “to shoot” list.
Some of my favorite prompts for family action photos are:
Have a parent toss kids in the air
Bouncing kids on a knee and “pretending” to drop them.
Telling “secrets” in their ears
4. Love on Your Family
I love an unscripted photo session, and that’s no different for families. I think the best moments are the unexpected ones, the silly ones, the ones where real life happens. So my advice is always just to show up and love on your family. I’ll document it all!
For family sessions, I often bring along a blanket. They work great for snuggled-up photos or fun photos of playing parachute. (Parachute was always THE BEST DAY in gym class at school, right?)
5. Plan to Get Dirty
You’ll likely get dirty or wet (or both) at beach photo sessions. As the session gets closer to the end, we typically walk near the water, and that’s when you can expect to get a little messy. It’s so much fun, and the kids always love it! Bring some extra clothes to change into before heading home, and you’ll be good to go.
While you probably don’t need prompts to get dirty, these are some of my favorites at the beach:
Pour sand into each other’s hands
Throw rocks into the water
Write and draw on the sand
Run toward and away from the waves
With all of these tips, your kids won’t complain about family photos the next time you’re ready for a session. They’ll remember how much fun they had and be EXCITED!
What to Wear for Your Family Photos: Tips from a Big Sur Family Photographer
Kali was great to work with for styling her family session. She took my advice on wardrobe ideas, followed up when she had questions, and I think she even purchased a few items from Zara I suggested.
I love when families trust me like Kali did. She trusted me with everything, and everyone relaxed into the photo experience. And the photos turned out so great because of that. What more could we ask for?
Ready to Book Your Big Sur Family Photo Session?
Now that you have my five tips for a stress-free family photo session, it’s time to book your family photo session and put them into action!
Whether you’re a local or planning a trip to the area, I’d love to be your Big Sur family photographer.